Friday, August 12, 2016

Williamsburg, 1862 using Carnage and Glory 2

I recently convened to the garage for a small American Civil War battle.  I just purchased a 27” monitor and a wireless keyboard specifically for Carnage and Glory 2 and wanted to put the new gear to the test.  Nigel Marsh also released a large upgrade to CG2, so I was looking forward to testing it out as well.

I settled on an old Johnny Reb 2 scenario, the battle of Williamsburg (1862), which would fit perfectly on a 6’ x 5’ table.  The battle pitted a couple of brigades on each side, so infantry numbers were roughly equal. I actually ran the scenario twice, but the first game was too imbalanced with regards to Union artillery superiority and resulted in a decision that was foretold by turn 2.

For the second game, I brought the Union artillery in as reinforcements (in addition to General Davidson’s brigade) to General Winfield Scott Hancock’s isolated command. I left the artillery under the command of the Union division commander (General William Smith) while the Confederates focused their attack on Hancock’s brigade.  It seemed to really balance the game and it added some “pucker factor” to both sides by the end. One interesting side note is that this was one of Second Lt George Custer's first actions, who was attached as a staff officer to General Hancock. As happened historically, Custer was to prove very useful in rallying troops along the line in this game.

The upgrade to CG2 was very impressive, adding even more to an already superb gaming system. The upgrade not only added prompts and compulsory unit information for GMs, it added concepts like oblique fire for artillery, maneuver columns on or off road for infantry and cavalry, as well as new modifiers for firing and combat.  The upgrade was very large and added greatly to the enjoyment of the game. All this for a free download! In addition, my new equipment made all of the difference in the gaming experience as well. I could see and interact with the computer from every corner of the table.  I was ecstatic.

The new monitor and wireless keypad made data entry from any point on the tabletop a breeze. My laptop can be seen peeking out from behind the monitor screen. A big difference to these aging eyes.

The Scenario

The battle of Williamsburg occurred on May 5th, 1862 and it was the first major fight of the Peninsula Campaign (the march onto Richmond).  After McClellan's army was briefly delayed further southeast at Yorktown, Williamsburg evolved into a much larger battle, actually intended as a rear-guard action as the bulk of the Confederates continued on to Richmond.  The full battle consisted of approximately 40,000 Union troops versus 32,000 Confederates. The small fight on my tabletop portrayed the threat of Hancock’s command on the extreme left flank of the Confederates. The object of Hancock’s attack was a redoubt in which several mortars and Virginia militia occupied. When this threat was realized by the Confederates, General D.H. Hill rushed Jubal Early and Rains’ brigades to counterattack.  Seeing the Southerners' advance against his troops, Hancock placed two regiments on a wooded hill and waited for Early’s men to attack through an open field. Historically, Early’s attack went nowhere and Hancock actually counterattacked, putting the rebels to flight. Hancock, in violation of his orders to retreat, stubbornly stayed on the field and was credited with a Union victory on this front.  In our scenario, General William Smith (with the divisional artillery) marched with Davidson’s brigade to reinforce Hancock’s position. As Early’s men attacked Hancock’s troops, Davidson’s Union men and Rains’ Confederates marched to impact each other. 

Early's regiments line up against Hancock's position

Confederate mortars and Virginia militia man the redoubt to the left of Hancock's troops

As you can see by the pictures, there was a large amount of disordering terrain. The militia and mortars were fixed in position at the redoubt. Davidson’s troops were to arrive on the southern edge of Dam road on Turn 2, while Rains’ Confederates were marching in maneuver column on the northern edge of the road, arriving on Turn 3. The divisional artillery, under the command of General Smith, led the way in front of Davidson’s troops along the road.

The Game
Jubal Early’s Confederate troops were poised to advance across an open field towards Hancock’s position. The Union troops had the benefit of medium cover in the woods though. In the first game, Hancock simply placed his artillery on his right flank and caught the Confederate troops in such a brutal cross-fire while crossing the field, that the game was literally over when it began. This time, Early had a more promising chance of breaking Hancock’s troops.

Jubal Early's men advance

As Early’s men crossed over the fence line and skirmishers began to engage on both sides, it was evident that the Confederates would need to “bring it on home” if they had any hope of thrashing the Union troops in the woods. As Early’s troops continued to advance, General Rains’ brigade showed up a turn early and entered the table in maneuver column. Hancock’s left flank was dangerously in the air. The following turn, Davidson’s Union troops entered the southern side of the tabletop and moved quickly in maneuver column towards the redoubt. 

Rains' brigade enters the tabletop, threatening Hancock's left flank

Meanwhile, Davidson's troops, with the divisional artillery leading the way, advance to reinforce Hancock

Early’s brigade and Hancock’s brigade soon traded brutal vollies, with the Confederates taking the worst of it in the open field.  The 23rd North Carolina Regiment threw caution to the wind and charged (using the Indian Rush maneuver) the 6th Maine. The Union volley halted the Confederate charge and the North Carolinians stopped at 50 paces and went prone.  Heavy firing erupted all across the line, as Early and Hancock’s men suffered casualties.  Rains’ men, by this time, were advancing towards the flank of Hancock’s position in the woods.  Union artillery deployed in front of Davidson’s troops and began to put a withering fire onto the Confederates moving towards Hancock’s position. The Confederates, as well as Union troops, began to engage in the heavy woods on the Confederate right.

Rains' Confederates begin deploying against Hancock

The charge of the 23rd North Carolina falters in front of the 6th Maine

The combat becomes vicious as all of the troops become embroiled around the woods

At this point, with both North Carolina regiments in the front line of Early’s brigade wavering, Hancock ordered a charge and led the unit 6th Maine into the attack.  The Confederates were sent reeling, but the men from Maine found itself halted in front of the 24th Virginia (at this point, held in reserve)  which issued a nasty volley. 

The 6th Maine Regiment, pursuing the defeated North Carolinians, soon found themselves at point blank range in front of the 24th Virginia Regiment. A bloody firefight soon engulfed both units.

As the game wore on, Davidson’s Yankees maneuvered through the woods to support Hancock’s position and butted heads with Rains’ Confederates.  The 6th Georgia Regiment then charged through the woods, routing 2 Federal regiments (one of which was part of Hancock’s brigade, caught in the flank).  It looked like the Confederates were winning the battle in the woods.

The 6th Georgia Regiment advances through the woods as the 5th North Carolina Regiment trades murderous fire with the 5th Wisconsin Regiment

The charge of the 6th Georgia Regiment sends the Yankees running

After another turn, the Union side finally suffered a morale loss which precipitated a retreat off of the field. Hancock’s brigade was smashed, along with Early’s command. The remaining troops on both sides were heavily engaged but still in the fight. The game itself was fought over 8 turns and took about a good hour and a half to complete. 

Although Davidson's brigade was largely intact, the Union forces suffered a morale loss and began to retreat off of the field

Expecting a Confederate victory (the redoubt and the rest of the field continued to be held by the Confederates), the computer’s analysis surprised me with a Major Federal victory (even after walking wounded were factored in).  Even though the Confederates held the field, the Union troops under Hancock and Davidson inflicted casualties at a 3:1 ratio on the advancing Confederates.  The difference was the open field that Early’s troops had to advance through.  I thought that the victory analysis was interesting (and very surprising), yet after looking at the casualty lists, made sense from a historical standpoint.  The successful charge of the 6th Georgia Regiment notwithstanding, the Union forces simply outgunned the Confederates who were caught largely in the open.

So, taking a break from Napoleonics and Ancients, I am looking forward to more ACW, especially with Carnage and Glory 2.  As always, I really enjoyed the experience !

The casualty list:
The Southern Army has suffered losses of:
 [ 10%]    445 men of all arms
   incl.[  1%]     48 prisoners of all arms
 [ 11%]    445 bayonets
 [  0%]      0 artillerists
Honors: [ 104] 38th Virginia
 [ 72%] ammunition available

The Federal Army has suffered losses of:
 [  4%]    160 men of all arms
   incl.[  0%]     38 prisoners of all arms
 [  4%]    160 bayonets
 [  0%]      0 artillerists
Honors: [ 503] 43rd New York
 [ 73%] ammunition available

The full orders of battle on this flank:

Division D.H. Hill - Attack
  [ 101] Major General D.H. Hill - Active B [875 paces]
    Brigade Jubal Early - Attack
    [ 102] Brigadier General Jubal Early - Active B [500 paces]
 [ 101] 5th North Carolina                0/ 390      C+    
 [ 102] 23rd North Carolina               0/ 412      C     
 [ 103] 24th Virginia                     0/ 420      C     
 [ 104] 38th Virginia                     0/ 501      C-    
    Brigade Gabriel Rains - Attack
    [ 103] Brigadier General Gabriel Rains - Active B [450 paces]
 [ 105] 13th Alabama                      0/ 392      C+    
 [ 106] 26th Alabama                      0/ 410      C     
 [ 107] 6th Georgia                       0/ 490      C-    
 [ 108] 23rd  Georgia                     0/ 490      C-    
    Staff Duncan McRae
    [ 104] Colonel Duncan McRae - Active B [875 paces]
    Regiment Edward McCarthy - Attack
    [ 105] Captain Edward McCarthy - Active B [225 paces]
 [ 109] 52nd Virginia Militia             0/ 518      D+    
 [ 110] Richmond Howitzers                0/  46 [ 2] C-    
       0/  4023 Bayonets
       0/    46 Artillerists
       0/     2 Cannon
       0/  4069 Total of all arms
              9 Colors present

Division William Smith - Attack
  [ 501] Brigadier General William Smith - Active C+ [800 paces]
 [ 505] 1st New York Battery              0/ 150 [ 6] C     
 [ 506] 3rd New York Battery              0/  92 [ 4] C     
    Brigade Winfield S. Hancock - Attack
    [ 502] Brigadier General Winfield S. Hancock - Active B+ [500 paces]
 [ 501] 5th Wisconsin                     0/ 412      C     
 [ 502] 6th Maine                         0/ 412      C     
 [ 503] 43rd New York                     0/ 514      C-    
 [ 504] 49th Pennsylvania                 0/ 482      C-    
    Staff George A. Custer
    [ 504] 2nd Lieutenant George A. Custer - Active B [950 paces]
    Brigade John Davidson - Attack
    [ 503] Brigadier General John Davidson - Active C+ [400 paces]
 [ 507] 7th Maine                         0/ 380      C     
 [ 508] 33rd New York                     0/ 481      C-    
 [ 509] 49th New York                     0/ 485      C-    
 [ 510] 77th New York                     0/ 522      C-    
       0/  3688 Bayonets
       0/   242 Artillerists
       0/    10 Cannon
       0/  3930 Total of all arms
             16 Colors present

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